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Sharon Kaasalainen

Bio

Dr. Kaasalainen joined the School of Nursing in 2002 as an Assistant Professor and became a Full Professor in 2018. She has been appointed and holds the inaugural Gladys Sharpe Chair in Nursing since 2020. In 2007 she completed a two-year CHSRF Post Doctoral Fellowship at McMaster University and was an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Career Scientist from 2008-2011 and a HSFO/Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Cardiovascular Nursing Research Fellow in 2012. Currently, Dr. Kaasalainen is an Associate member of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University, an Honorary Professor at Queens University Belfast, and an Honorary Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Technology Sydney. She is a co-lead of the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long-Term Care (SPA-LTC) program along with a national team of health and social researchers. SPA-LTC aims to improve the quality of living and dying for residents and their family/friends in long term care. Learn more at https://spaltc.ca/.

Select Publications

  • Bravo, G., Trottier, L., Rodrique, C., Arcand, M., Downie, J., Dubois, M.F., Kaasalainen, S., Hertogh, C.M., Pautex, S., Van den Block, L. (2019). Comparing the attitudes of four groups of stakeholders from Quebec, Canada, towards extending medical aid in dying to incompetent patients with dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 34:1078-1086. doi: 10.1002/gps.5111.
  • *Durepos, P., Sussman, T., Ploeg, J., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Punia, H., & Kaasalainen, S. (2019). What does death preparedness mean for family caregivers of persons with dementia? American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 36(5):436-446. doi: 10.1177/1049909118814240.
  • Smith-MacDonald, L., Venturato, L., Hunter, P., Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Wickson-Griffiths, A., Sinclair, S. (2019). Perspectives and experiences of compassion in long-term care facilities within Canada: A Qualitative Study of Patients, Family Members and Health Care Providers. BMC Geriatrics, 19(1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1135-x.
  • Sussman, T., Kaasalainen, S., Lee, E., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Strachan, P.H., Brazil, K., Bonifas, R., Bourgeois-Guérin, V., Durivage, P., Papaioannou, A., Young, L. (2019). Condition-specific pamphlets to improve end-of-life communication in long-term care: Staff perceptions on usability and use.  J Am Med Dir Assoc., 20(3):262-267. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2018.11.009.
  • Ploeg, J., Canesi, M., Fraser, K.D., McAiney, C., Kaasalainen, S., Markle-Reid, M., Dufour, S., Garland Baird, L., & Chambers, T. (2019). Experiences of community-dwelling older adults living with multiple chronic conditions: A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 9(3):e023345. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023345.
  • *Hill, C., Duggleby, W., Kaasalainen, S., Venturato, L., *Durepos, P., *Kulasegaram, P. & Hill, C.J. (2019). An analysis of documents guiding palliative care in five Canadian provinces. Canadian Journal on Aging, 2019 Jan 24:1-15. doi: 10.1017/S0714980818000594. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Hunter, P.V., McCleary, L., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Goodridge, D., Hadjistavropoulos, T., Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., *Wickson-Griffiths, A. (2019). Mind the gap: Is the Canadian long-term care workforce ready for a palliative care mandate? Ageing & Society, 1–21. doi:10.1017/S0144686X18001629. 

Honours

2018  Health Science Graduate Student Federation (HSGSF) Excellence in Graduate Student Supervisory Award

2016  President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision Award Nominee

Grants

  • 2020 – 2021: Goodarzi, Z., Holroyd-Leduc, J., McMillan, J. Virk, N., Hogan, D., Toohey, A., Simon J., Sinnarajah A., Ewa V., Fox, L., Silvius J., Shankle, M.J., Grinman, M., Vig, C., Slobogian, V., Liu, B., Kaasalainen, S., Tanuseputro, P., Gorchynski, B. Development & Implementation of a Clinical Care Pathway for Frail Older Adults in LTC. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Implementation Science Teams: Teams Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness in Long-Term Care Funding Opportunity, $150,000.
  • 2020 – 2021: Neil-Sztramko, S. (NPI), Dobbins, M. (Co-PI), Anderson, L., Apatu, E., Belita, E., Bellefleur, O., Kaasalainen, S., Kapiriri, L., Sherifali, D., Tarride, J.E. (Co-I). Regional Geriatric Program (RGPc) and St. Peter’s / McMaster University Chair in Aging Specialized Geriatric Services, $14,960. Identifying and Disseminating Strategies to Support the Long Term Care Sector Following Covid-19.
  • 2020-2021: Kaasalainen, S., McCloskey, R., Wickson-Griffiths, A., Neil-Sztramko, S., Baxter, S. (PIs); Dobbins, M., Boamah, S., Durepos, P., Hunter, PV., Markle-Reid, M., McCleary, L., Sussman, T., Siu, H., Arya, A., Holroyd-Leduc, J., Thompson, G., Venturato, L. Implementing and Scaling Up the Palliative Care Toolkit in Long-Term Care During COVID. Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Implementation Science Teams: Teams Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness in Long-Term Care Funding Opportunity. $149,998.
  • 2019 – 2024: Kaasalainen, S., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Sussman, T., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A. (PIs).  Bourgeois-Guerin, V., Fisher, K., Hadjistavropoulos, T., MacDonald, M., Martin-Misener, R., McClement, S., Parker, D., Penner, J., Ploeg, J., Sinclair, S., & You, J. CIHR Project Grant, $948,600, Implementing, Evaluating, and Scaling Up of the Strengthening a Palliative Approach in Long Term Care (SPA-LTC) Program.  
  • 2019 - 2022: Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A. Bravo, G., Ganann, R. & Abelson, J.  CIHR, Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) Grant: “Multinational research projects on Health and Social Care for Neurodegenerative Diseases”, $349,998, Scaling up the Family Carer Decision Support Intervention: A transnational effectiveness-implementation evaluation.
  • 2018 – 2021: Knopp-Sihota J, Estabrooks C, Doupe M, Kaasalainen S, Parker D, Hoben M, Poss J, Thompson G, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Project Grant Competition, $577,574, Improving pain assessment in nursing home residents with dementias.
  • 2017 - 2021: Kaasalainen S, Hunter P, Baxter S, Coker E, dal Bello-Haas V, Dolovich L, Hadjistavropoulos T, McAiney C, Ploeg J, Thabane L, Sussman T, Thompson G, & Wickson-Griffiths A. CIHR, $498,350, Social Inclusion for Individual with Dementia and Carers, Improving quality of living and dying for people with advanced dementia and their caregivers.
  • 2019 - 2022: Kaasalainen, S., Sussman, T., Akhtar-Danesh, N., Hunter, P., McCleary, L., Thompson, G., Venturato, L., Wickson-Griffiths, A. $349,998, CIHR, Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) Grant: “Multinational research projects on Health and Social Care for Neurodegenerative Diseases”, Scaling up the Family Carer Decision Support Intervention: A transnational effectiveness-implementation evaluation.
  • 2017 - 2019: Sussman T, Kaasalainen S, Thompson G, Wickson-Griffiths A, & McCleary L. Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, $119,349, Advance care planning for persons with dementia: challenges, opportunities and solutions.
  • Jan 2017-Jan 2021:  Principal Applicant Improving Quality of Living and Dying for People with Advanced Dementia and their Caregivers. Kaasalainen S, Hunter P (co-PIs). Co-Investigators: Baxter S, Coker E, dal Bello-Haas V, Dolovich L, Hadjistavropoulos T, McAiney C, Papaioannou A, Ploeg J, Thabane L, Sussman T, Thompson G, Wickson-Griffiths A.  Funded by CIHR - Social Inclusion for Individual with Dementia and Carers, $498,350
  • June 2017-June 2020:  Co- Principal Investigator Improving Advance Care Planning for Frail Elderly Canadians Team Leader: You, J. Co-Principal Investigators: Gutman G., Howard M, Kaasalainen S, Sussman T. Co-investigators: Kryworuchko, J., Fowler, R., Bernard, C.; Allatt, P., Bourgeois-Guérin, V., Tan, A., Urquhart, R., Lask, D., Sharmn, Block, S., Jayaraman, D., Kobewka, D., Swinton, M., Sudore, R., Slaven, M., Myers, J., Devries, B., Simon, J., Abelson, J., Sinuff, T., Downar, J., Dodek, P., Thompson, G., Taneja, R., McCleary, L., Gutman, Day, A. Funded by the Clinical Frailty Network, Transformative Grant Program, $2,999,991.
  • 2015-2018: Principal Applicant Partnering Together to Improve Palliative Care in Long Term Care Kaasalainen S, Costello A, Hunter P, Neves P, Sussman T, Thompson G, Venturato L. (Co-Principal Investigators); Co-investigators: Akhtar-Danesh N, Bourgeois-Guérin V, Chochinov H, dal Bello-Haas V, Duggleby W, Earl M, Goodridge D, Hadjistavropoulos T, Holtslander L, McCleary L, McClement S, O’Leary J, Papaioannou A, Parker D, Ploeg J, Sinclair S, Strachan P, Thorpe L, Touchette C, Trinidad G, You J, Young L.  Co-funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Partnerships in Health System Improvement; Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions; Manitoba Health Research Council; Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care; Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, for $740,000. June 1 2015- June 1 2018.
  • 2015-2017: Principal Applicant. The Feasibility, Acceptability, and Effects of the Namaste Care Program for Residents with Advanced Dementia in Long Term Care. Kaasalainen S, Hunter P, dal Bello-Haas V, Dolovich L, Froggatt K, Hadjistavropoulos T, Markle-Reid M, Ploeg J, Thabane L, van der Steen J, Volicer L. Funded by the Canadian Alzheimers Society (2015-2017), $119,780. July 1, 2015 - December 30, 2017

Research

Dr. Kaasalainen’s research program is focused on improving the quality of life for people living in long term care (LTC) homes with a particular focus on pain management and palliative care. Other areas of interest include examining the role of nurse practitioners in LTC and ways to optimize this role to enhance resident care. She has received research funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; both as a principal and co-investigator with the primary focus on improving quality of care for LTC residents.

Courses

Undergraduate Teaching

2021:  BScN Program, McMaster University -  4NR3, Nursing Research, Year 4

Graduate Teaching

Dr. Kaasalainen supervises both Masters and PhD students in the graduate program.

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